Tech Tips: Using a phone abroad without huge fees

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Posted December 17, 2013
Tech Tips: Using a phone abroad without huge fees
In this Monday, Dec. 27, 2010, file photo, Kevin Fagan, from San Francisco, talks on his phone while an airplane sits motionless on the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Traveling internationally can provide challenges to cell phone users. ( AP Photo/Seth Wenig, FIle)
If you have a trip outside the United States coming up, one thing you’ll likely want to bring is your cellphone. You might have heard warnings about how those phones can accrue international charges quickly through your U.S. wireless carrier. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In the past, I’ve simply turned off my phone’s cellular connections while abroad. But nearly three weeks in Thailand and Cambodia earlier this year proved too long to stay away from email, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare and other time sinks.

If you’re traveling internationally, check with your carrier on whether your phone will even work with cellular networks abroad. If it doesn’t, you can still use apps through Wi-Fi connections at hotels and malls. Your phone company might even rent or loan a compatible phone.



Will you make a lot of calls or texts? Before I left, Verizon told me that calls would cost $1.99 a minute in Thailand and $2.89 a minute in Cambodia. No, thanks. I’ll just text people instead. To avoid text charges, I signed up for three free services, WhatsApp, Line and Viber. The catch is that you can text only with those on the same service, so your contacts will also have to join.

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